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with its ethnic and religious minorities. in the city of lanzhou. but lanzhou's location-- and its future-- on this frontier have much to do with the region's physical geography and naral resources. ( blowing heavily ) narrator: for centuries in this part of china, rafts like this were an important means of transportation. made of sheepskin, inflated and tied together, these rafts, called yangpi fazi, navigated the huang he, or yellow river. by looking only at the huang he, you might think lanzhou is a wet place. in fact it only receives about 12 inches of rain a year. geographer chai yangwei, in the green, follows these farmers to see how they cope with such low rainfall. peculiar to agriculture in this area, these are called "stone fields." a thin layer of stones is spread over the surface of the field to hold in moisture. stone fields can be used for about eight years. constant upkeep is necessary, however. this plot is two years old. the farmers are adding fertilizer. if the soil becomes mixed with the stones, the efficiency of a stone field decreases, so stones must be carefully swep
. by 1550 bc, power had shifted to a n kingdom 500 miles south in the ancient city of thebes, now called luxor. to the west, in the hills beyond the nile's west bank, the royal tombs of the valley of the kings were cut into limestone cliffs. their interiors are richly decorated with hieroglyphs and paintings-- signs and symbols that detail the necessary steps to attain immortality. egypt's power and the grandeur that came with it were well-established by 2500 bc when the great pyramids at giza were built. the sphinx was a philosophy of government set in stone. it depicted the king as fearless, cunning and brave as the lion. and as crucial to egypt as the nile itself. the king was not just a political leader but a religious leader too. in the minds of the ancient egyptians, the pharaoh's power and authority as a king stretched far beyond the boundaries of his country-- and into the cosmos itself. after death, he would escape the earthly bounds of his tomb, board a solar boat and sail into immortality. this vision became material in objects and images found in the tombs and temples as a wa
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